- 1.5kg pork belly
- 2 tbsp Maldon sea salt
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- light olive oil
- 1 glass dry cider (optional, for sauce)
Either ask your butcher to score the belly, or do it yourself with a Stanley knife, cutting right through the skin and fat, but not into the meat.
To help the skin dry out, the belly must be left at room temperature, uncovered, for a few hours before cooking.
Rub fine sea salt into the skin, dabbing off any beads of moisture that appear on the surface with kitchen towel. Preheat your oven to its highest temperature, about 220°C.
Grind a tablespoon of sea salt to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar with a tablespoon of fennel seeds. Rub thoroughly into the dry skin with a tablespoon of light olive oil, right into the scored crevices, then sprinkle over another tablespoon of coarse, not ground, sea salt.
Place the belly in a roasting dish on top of a trivet of onions and apples, peeled, and quartered, seasoned and doused in olive oil, and tossed with a handful of thyme sprigs.
Roast on the highest oven shelf at 220°C for 20 minutes, to give the skin a good blast of heat, then turn the heat down to 160°C and cook for a further hour and 15 minutes.
Turn the heat up to 200°C and cook for a further 40 minutes. This would be a good time to put par boiled potatoes in the oven, if you’re having a roast. Your belly is ready.
For a perfect gravy, move the pork from the roasting tray to a serving dish, save any onion or apple that has miraculously not turned to mush to serve with the pork. Pour off the oodles of fat and place the roasting dish on the hob, pour in a generous glass of dry cider and let it bubble away for a few minutes, scraping the bottom of the dish to release all the gooey bits. Thicken with arrowroot or flour if you like – we prefer it thinner, so it gets easily soaked up by the belly meat.